This is a really interesting question I've been pondering recently. You see in the old days branding (from the design perspective) was all about creating a strong, compelling and consistent image and message in the marketplace. Let's use a modern example using social media. How often do you go to a website and then check out a companies facebook page and then their twitter site? Well, if your in the inbound marketing industry, or in the branding industry, probably all the time. Why is this?
Well because we are looking for consistency of "brand" although often times in our mind we call it something else, but the goal is to establish TRUST. Trust to let our mind and our guts know that this is a reputable company to follow or do business with. Let's say the website looks great with a wonderful design, but when I get to their twitter account, they have no branding at all. Now let's say the "twitter clouds" background didn't scare me off instantly, if I see that they have 45K followers and they follow 40K people, what does that tell me? What if although they have a solid following and follow many, they only have 25 tweets, what does that tell me?
The point here is this… this company is using a twitter bot to populate their followers. They are not doing it manually, that is unless all 25 tweets are so amazing that my life was changed in the ten minutes it took to read them all. Due to the lack of branding and the obvious use of a twitter bot, you know this is not a trustworthy vendor. I certainly wouldn't follow or do business with these people because something is out of whack.
Although this is a modern take on things, the same is true for the old ways of branding. If I talk to a highly polished sales person at a networking event and then get back to the office and look at their site and business card and they look like crap, chances are this person would soon be over looked and passed on. Why? Because the "Brand Messaging" wasn't correct. Something was off.
Maybe this is where the standard breakdown of sales and marketing comes from. Sales can bring in business so they could care less about design and the brand. Brand is actually important for a salesperson though because with out an actual great product or service to sell, a salesperson is dead in the water. Now if a company creates a solid product/service to sell and you have great salespeople, then yes, you are going to still do pretty well.
Now, I have talked to many sales organizations over the years. Most suck at branding and design, most suck at marketing. So how could branding help a sales organization or a company with a solid sales force? Well, let's take the sales organization, sadly they may be blinded by the fact that they are good at sales and so they miss the opportunity to bring in more business by building a powerful brand. Due to their success, they want nothing to do with branding. I know one in particular firm who is leaving money on the table because they do not understand branding or customer usability of their site or product. Making minor changes to improve their product and service from a design and branding perspective would push business through the roof, or at least give a 20% or more increase in a few months. But because they are highly successful already, they are not willing to listen to someone talk about branding. If however, they rebranded the weak items and made the user experience better and easier, 100% of their current customers would be happier and more successful and this would help them build their brand into a household name in the business community.
Now let's review branding. Many branders want nothing to do with sales. Heck, I was one of those guys. I hated the idea of sales and cheesy sales guys. This was partly because I thought marketing was the answer to all sales issues. If you had great marketing and enough of it business would be booming, right? Being a small shop who did a ton of marketing, I realized that although I was building a strong brand and brand awareness, I was not having the sales growth I thought a business like mine should be getting. So I bit the bullet got a sales assessment to review my strengths and weaknesses and worked for a few years on this stuff. Within the first year or two I tripled my previous business and it had little to do with the previous branding I did in the past. Some of this helped when companies reviewed our website to see if we were legit, but that was the extent.
Ok so let's get to the point: the reason sales and branding should work together is the same reason a gas and electric engine get a much higher gas milage but still offer power when you need it. If your organization has a strong sales force and a solid brand, then there is no stopping you. You will become a world class company in business development. So where are you strongest? Design? Sales? Are you willing to take your business to the next level? If you delivered 1+1=11 or a quantum leap, by mastering the other side of the equation, would you want to do it? When would you like to talk?
I wrote a similar article talking about design and creative directors and how they fit into the mix. This article should be posted soon so don't forget to check out her smarketing blog.